Correspondent in Berlin
The second televised electoral debate, fifteen days before the polls and in the prime time slot that the series that is usually billed by German public televisions, ‘Tatort’ (Place of crime), has given a final boost to the Social Democratic candidate, Olaf Scholz. The INSA poll carried out immediately after the debate repeats the result and gives Scholz 26% of the votes, while leaving the CDU a Armin Laschet with only 20.5%. The only surprise that can be expected is what can be hidden in the vote by mail, in an election in which the percentage of remote voting will be much higher than usual and which, according to experts, has already been cast for the most part. The forks in which the polls show their results may also end up playing a role: 25% to 27% for the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and 19% to 25% for the Christian Democratic Union.
Pleasing those who asked for more harshness than in the cordial first debate, where the candidates posed as future coalition partners, Laschet this time deployed on the television set of the ZDF chain a whole series of ammunition against his opponent who until now had held the margin. It demanded responsibilities from Scholz, as finance minister of the current government, for the financial scandals that have marked the legislature and for those who had not been held accountable until now.
He referred to the ‘Wire Card’ case, the ‘Cum Ex’ case and the recent raid that agents of the Public Prosecutor’s Office have carried out in the Ministry of Finance, in search of officials involved in a money laundering case. Laschet cornered Scholz with accusations in a righteous and almost aggressive tone. Markus SöderBavarian President and Sister CSU leader, who had been clamoring for a tightening of the campaign tone for weeks, declared that he strongly expected a “change of mood” in favor of the conservative option. «It was a convincing performance and in my opinion a clear victory on points for Armin Laschet. A change in trend opens the door and gives a tailwind for the final push, “he said. But Scholz’s reaction caused the public, who mostly closed the weekend with the series on criminal investigations by the German police in the various Bundesländer, to perceive Scholz in the role of victim. He showed his more human side, while being attacked.
Gesture of pain
Scholz is usually a politician who controls his emotions to the maximum. He does not enjoy great oratory and sometimes stumbles when speaking. He always expresses himself objectively, with data ahead of him, using short sentences and in a rather low voice. On Berlin The rumor circulates that the microphone system in the cabinet has been specially adapted for him, with an increase in volume, which his people call defamation. In the debate, during the string of accusations about his management at the head of Finance, a gesture of pain could be observed on his face and how his ears reddened at times, but he did not show anger, but rather the attitude of a martyr. ‘Mr Laschet, you have repeated false statements three times, you are very consciously twisting the facts. He is giving the wrong impressions and he is doing it for dishonest reasons, ”he simply replied.
Scholz, in fact, worked on his image as a candidate wearing the boots of a finance minister and long before the campaign began. What number twoMerkel’s government, has been shown at all times Chancellor’s natural successor German, despite the fact that she works in the exact opposite direction from the austere Merkel. As soon as the pandemic began, it got rid of the “black zero”, the rigid budgetary policy that has maintained the fiscal stability of Germany during the last crises and that had been making the minister in charge of this portfolio a rather unsympathetic authority.
According to the draft general budgets for 2022, which bears his signature, Germany will issue some 470 billion euros in new debt. In just three years, the federal government will increase its debt load by 50%. And it has also been presented as the achiever in Brussels of the exceptional European aid against the economic paralysis of the pandemic.
To top it off, he refuses in band to give clues about his intentions to government coalition. Laschet, who guaranteed that neither the extreme right of Alternative for Germany (AfD) nor the extreme left of Die Linke will be associated, repeatedly challenged the Social Democrat to define in advance whether he is willing to form a government with the latter, contrary to, for example, NATO and the transatlantic relationship, to which Scholz refused. «The duel between Armin Laschet and Olaf Scholz remains. Which of the two will lead the next government will be decided by the partners they need to do so. Olaf Scholz has several options open to him. Armin Laschet cannot become Chancellor without the Greens and the Liberals of the FDP, “he says. Hermann Binkert, head of the INSA demoscopic institute, with the Greens in the polls at 15% and the FDP at 12.5%.
There is also an unexpected reissue of the grand coalition with a change of head, which would have a tight 46.5% and a parliamentary majority. In the Casa Konrad Adenauer Berlin starts to be mentioned this option in the corridors. “We are not in the process of forming a government, but in promoting the right path for our country. And I think we still have a long time after the elections to see who is forming a coalition with whom, “were Laschet’s impenetrable words about it.